Why I Loved My 73rd Birthday

I celebrated with my family, friends + Carole King!

Why I Loved My 73rd Birthday

I adore birthdays. I've liked them ever since I was a little kid. Not just mine; I love everybody's celebration. The anticipation, the guests who celebrate with you, good friends checking in from far away, the cake, the presents. What's not to love? 

Somehow this year my 73rd birthday was more than special with lots of lovely little extra touches that made my heart sing.


Reason #1. My pre-birthday birthday ...
I was born and raised in Montreal. Many of my longtime female friends (30 - 50 year friendships) still live there so this year I hopped the Toronto-Montreal train to party with them. I had three days before my actual birthday and celebrate we did! Lunches and dinners and lots and lots of wonderful conversation and memories. The kind that fills your soul and strengthens you for what life normally dishes out on a daily basis. 
And then there's Sylvain, a Montreal man I met when I was 43, he 33. A man who never forgets to send a birthday greeting no matter where in the world he is. Today he's 63 to my 73 and this time we celebrated face-to-face with a wonderful meal, a bottle of red wine and lots and lots of catching up. His gray hair matches mine now and...  he still makes my heart sing.
Reason #2. My social media birthday...
It began the evening before my birthday—cheery Facebook messages began arriving from people in places all over the world. And then hundreds more continued to roll in via Twitter, email and FB. Each message was sweeter than the next; each message invoked a memory or connection with a special person and I absolutely loved hearing from everybody. My huge thanks to everyone for the juicy pleasure those wishes brought me.
Reason #3. Birthday with my grandchildren ...
I love that the kiddies in our family take equal part in our adult birthday celebrations. My youngest, four-year-old granddaughter was appointed the Happy Birthday singer this year. She was almost pitch perfect and a perfect little imp.
And, as usual, their little homemade cards were designed to melt a Jewish Bubby's heart. And, as usual, they were more than successful.
Of course, I'm still smiling about this one  ---> My 11-year-old granddaughter couldn't wait to give me her gift. She must have thought ... what do you offer a digitally-deficient grandma? She then chose --> a huge 'Guide to iPhone Use' with over 660 pages and proudly announced to me, 'It cost $18 and I paid for it all by myself.'  
Does it get any better than that?
Reason #4. Birthday with my adult children ...
I love Carole King. I played her album 'Tapestry' (circa 1971) an awful lot when my daughters Erica and Leslie were growing up, and they remember it well. So when they spied a 'Tribute to Carole King' scheduled at Hugh's Room, a live music venue and restaurant, they scooped up tickets for the five of us. We ate, we drank, we talked, we laughed and we enjoyed a fantastic show. The complete audience sang Happy Birthday to me and ...
The show photographer asked me if Erica, Leslie, and I were sisters. I loved that; they hated it. Hahaha.
But, the most important part of the night was that I was enjoying an evening out, with the adults who were once the little kids I fed, bathed, scolded, and prepared for life. And today they were honoring me in the nicest way possible and I could see what a juicy job I've done.
And, that's the best birthday present a mom could have.
Reason #5 I love getting older ...
Really! Even if every year I live means one year less that I will be on this earth, I just love being here. Period.
And that's why Birthday #73 was such a gorgeous success!

It's Never Too Late to Start Taking Care of Yourself

My Family Comes Second and They Love It

It's Never Too Late to Start Taking Care of Yourself

I recently came across this photo of myself after my very first 5K race.

I was almost 40 then, in an unhappy marriage, living in the country and commuting many miles to a full-time job. Health issues were taking their toll and I was completely stressed from what life was pitching at me. I was mom to two teenagers who were fighting for their independence. Needless to say, my heart and soul were taking quite a beating. Like most moms of my era the family always came first. All my attention was focused on their needs. I paid little heed to what I was eating, did little in the way of exercise and I smoked—a lot. Who knew it was bad? Back then my doctor was doing it, too. Really!

When I recently watched this powerful video produced by Becel, I wished someone has sent something like this to me when I was a young mom.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

Moms absolutely owe it to their kids to take good care of themselves.

Too many kids lose their moms to heart disease and stroke, a leading cause of death for women in Canada. The good news is the risk for heart disease and stroke can be reduced by up to 80% by making healthy lifestyle choices.

Without a doubt, any child would much rather have a healthy, happy mom than the cleanest room or the hottest toy of the season. Unfortunately, a recent survey by Becel shows that the majority of Canadian mothers go to great lengths for their kids but don't have enough time to take care of themselves.

If you are one of these moms, keep reading.

My personal wake-up call came early one dark and dreary fall morning when sadness totally overwhelmed me. I finally realized I had only myself to blame for my unhealthy condition and I’d better start concentrating on me or I’d be in no condition to care for my children. The very next morning when it was still dark I laced on a pair of worn running shoes and began a few tentative jogging steps on the side of our country road. Of course, I was winded after five minutes but I didn’t care. Just taking one step was one step closer to my goal—to be healthy and happy again.

My progress was slow. I joined a health club and began watching what I ate. I stubbed out that last cigarette and never looked back. It took me a few months to be able to run a mile but I never missed a day of trying. Eventually, I could run for miles on country roads and my body never flinched. I could feel myself healing. I doted on me, and guess what? My family did just fine. In fact, they cheered me on. What I didn’t do for them, they did for themselves. Hello wellness; good-bye guilt.

Fast forward twenty years. To celebrate my 60th birthday I trained again to run a 10K race. Surprisingly my muscles had memory. Yes, they ached but they actually remembered the drill. I finished that run in respectable time and stopped to kiss one policeman after completing each kilometer. Those 10 kisses were my reward and a wonderful incentive!

Birthday 73 is coming up and I’ve made the switch from running to walking. I’m trying to stay in shape for me and for my family. I’ve already seen friends suffer heart attacks and strokes. I know that I can reduce my risks by taking good care of myself, so why wouldn’t I? I want to be around for my family as long as possible!

Who knows? Perhaps I can find a 5K walking event this spring with lots of lovely policeman on duty? Yes! I can actually feel my motivation growing!

Do you know a mom who needs a wake-up call about her heart health? You can potentially ‘save a life’ by personalizing this cool video from Becel and sending it on to her. Please do it!

Encourage a Mom to take care of herself today! 

In its role as founding sponsor of the Heart and Stroke Foundation's The Heart Truth™ campaign, Becel wants to empower moms and encourage them to prioritize their own health and well-being as much as they do for others.

To help spread this important message, Becel made this amazing video:

You can go to the Becel website to easily personalize and send the video to moms in your life to remind them to take care of themselves too!

Encourage a Mom today!

She’ll thank you for it. And so do we!




International Woman's Day 2013

Celebrating Mother Love Around the World

International Woman's Day 2013

As most of you know my day job is as a travel journalist. In that capacity I've visited close to 70 countries on seven continents. My goal as a writer is to inspire other women to step out their door and explore our great big world—solo, with their partners, and with their families.  

As I've travelled I've had the sweet experience of observing grandmothers, mothers, and their children interacting in tiny villages, bigger townsm and great big cities around the world. And it's always the same. I've seen first-hand the care, the teaching, the protection, and the love that continuously flows from women to their offspring. I've noticed that no matter where I go, even though dad is a fierce, integral part of the family unit, it is mama that is the central warm heart of the home.

On this International Woman's Day, I'd like to pay tribute to females here and around the world by sharing some of the mother love I've captured with my camera.
Forget the fancy child carriers on sale in North America, this mom out shopping in Guillin, China fashioned her own carrier—an embroidered tablecloth with long cotton straps attached. Her young son, secure in his pouch, was loving his piggyback ride.
On a road leading out of Marrakesh in Morocco, I stopped at a woman's cosmetic co-op. This grandmother and granddaughter working side by side asked me to take their photo. I love the way the little girl is leaning into her grandmother and the gentle way the grandmother is holding her close.
At the local pool a Toronto mother holds her daughter and teaches her how to float. There is absolute sweet confidence written all over the little girl's face. No way will her mom let her go.
In Kariega, South Africa this mom watched over her playful babe and made it very clear to all of us in the safari jeep that we better not get any closer. Our guide had his foot on the gas pedal ready to make a quick exit if necessary.
In Whitehorse, in the Canadian Yukon, I had the pleasure of watching this mom and her daughter perform along with their Native Canadian dance troupe. I marvelled at the fact that this woman danced the complete routine, holding her child close to her body still keeping up with the big male dancers who were just carrying spears.
Fierce mother love. Need I say more? This photo says it all.
Passing through a small town in China I came across this mother who made me smile. She, like my own daughters in Canada, was balancing child care along with doing her day job.
It was a hot, hot day in Salvador, Brazil and walking down the street was Mom carrying her young baby under a sun umbrella. Like every mother of a new baby she had her towel over her shoulder ready for the expected and, the unexpected.
And then the camera was turned on me, the Grandmother, at the airport welcoming my newly adopted granddaughter who has just arrived from Beijing. I wonder what was going through that little girl's mind? I know what I was feeling. Pure, unadulterated love and the promise that, no matter what, I will always look out for her well being.
Happy International Woman's Day 2013!